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Thoughtfully made advertising sales promo film extolling 1950s suburbanites as citizens and consumers.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: On Film, Inc.
Sponsor: Redbook Magazine
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W/C
Keywords: Suburbia; Cold War; Consumerism
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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...I found the editing and style of the film to be quite well-put-together. Quite stylish at times.
Subject: The "Divorce" Generation
This film portrays that "in between generation" that was too young to have served in WWII and instead went to Korea if anywhere. What was noticeable to me is that fully 75% of the people of this generation, that I knew, got divorced at least once - in total counterdistinction to the generation that just preceded them; and also they were more likely to divorxe than the post war baby boomers. One wonders why that was. About the only difference I can come up with is that this generation HAD to get married or look "you-know-what" whereas the post war boomers took marriage more as an option, and those who weren't marriage material just skipped it - and fled to San Francisco.
Loved those outdoor shopping centers - they were so cool; and this film even has a segment of that outdoor shopping center muzak going in the background.
Otherwise a overly long film that has a lot of repetition. All those kids make me nervous. And BTW, notice how prolific these people were...just like WWII vets - except that their baby making days were often curtailed by the big "D."
Subject: Nice memories, bad memories, just like today...
I was born in 1958 and, yes, I miss the relative safety of the streets, the cleaniness, the politeness, the professionalism of people serving you in businesses, etc. I don't like the opposites I experience today. Yet, I 'm glad females were liberated, people of color get the respect that's their birth-right, gays are out, and all the other bad stuff is seen as bad. It was a mix then, its a mix now. I hope it's all good in the future for my kids. It's not now for us with rude and dangerous folks everywhere of all types and lack of respect coming from all directions: reverse bigotry, reverse sexism. We need to respect everyone...everyone. Peace, love and hairgrease!!
Subject: Aweseome stock footage for mangling
Can't wait for all that to be replaced with "progress"... I grew up in a suburb (or 2) not much different than this but 20 some years later... now we have zero lot lines, cookie cutter houses, detroit, etc... oh well.
Mom and Dad sure spent a lot of time at the mall...
Subject: Like a Norman Rockwell Painting
I know that life was not THIS simple in the 50s, however; it was fun to view it as if it were. I felt like I was brought back in time here. Before I was even born. :) But none the less; to a simpler era than today.
Subject: @ realsurf
the US population in 2009 was 304,060,000 persons according to the census. Of that 61,421,000 people were classified as non-white, meaning that we had about 80% of our population was white. In 1950, the population was 150,597,361 total with 15,482,000 people being classified as non-white, meaning that the white population was nearly 90% white. The percentage of non-white population doubled in the last 60 years, while the total population nearly tripled. If the total white population is still greater in number than the non-white, are you saying this is STILL A WHITE COUNTRY????
You have to remember, black Americans were not given full rights until the 1960's and were rarely treated as equals in the 50's, so this WHITE COUNTRY of yours is based on a skewed and prejudicial accounting. Advertising today is more demographically dispersed than it was back then because we are a bit more "enlightened" than we were in the 50's. But in reality, it is because advertisers are now more color-blind when it comes to whose money they take. In fact, more advertising is geared to take advantage of non-whites and any marginalized segment of society then ever before...
So the 1950s was only "WHITE" because people were idiots and racist, not that they aren't today, they are just more willing to make money off of (or get votes from) anyone regardless of ethnicity, race or gender.
Subject: How it was
Not a review - to to ALL you historical revisionists. (That means judging history by the standards of your present experience). In 1950, according to the US census the population of America was 89.9% white. That's why advertising etc was "so white". IT WAS A WHITE COUNTRY!!!!!
I am only stating the facts - go look it up. The snarky comments from today's kids and psudo-adults make me laugh. Those of us who were lucky enough to grow up in this era just look back and smile. You can have your iPods, cell phones, play dates and interne - I wouldn't trade one day of playing outside with my gang at the park for all of your electronic babysitters.
Eight Bit Bandit -
Subject: "The Goingest Part of a Nation On Wheels!"
"Say, honey, now that the war is over, how'sabout you and me go buy our own personal Chevrolet landship and cruise that sucker right on down to Macy's for enough shopping to gag a horse?"
On the plus side, I finally understand my grandparents.
baisers voles -
Subject: Where we went wrong.
This film should be watched: Not for a look at the good old days,but to study the beginnings of our modern culture's endless expansion and consumption at the expense of our environment.
Subject: Not a Black and White Thing!
This film is fun and amusing for many reasons. I like the person who said it's interesting to see this kind of enthusiasm for the 1950s without a note of sarcasm or irony. Well, having been there the first time (though I was 2 when this film was made) I can tell you this was serious business.
The business was what Darren Stevens (as in "Bewitched") did for a living: Advertising. This film sells advertising for Redbook so that, yes, you can spend only 29 cents at YOUR local supermarket and participate in a forum with your young, white, middle-class neighbors on all the topics of the day. This is not an art film or an expression of personal politics, not a "shill" because it's not hidden in the least: this film is for potential advertisers. Is it good? Is it bad? Neither. It just Was, and why NOT reach for the American Dream? Yes, it was only 15 and 5 years earlier that these "young people" or their older siblings were in Japan or France or Korea fighting a war, and war is about to happen again in Vietnam. Why not try to build a "perfect" society? What's wrong with that?
It's charming because I think it's unwitting--even the Republican president Eisenhower's administration took better care of the poor than we do now, taxing the rich and making it possible for "young people" to have what they lost their friensds and limbs to have: freedom. By the way, I am an artist and writer, a socialist, a feminist, an environmentalist, worked to get Obama elected, and currently divorced and on Medi-Cal. What do I admire about this time? Their medical insurance. Gainfully employed graphic designers, illustrators, writers, filmmakers, who had to be creative every day--and they were incredibly creative and productive.
I also love their sense of community, of building a Utopia for themselves and their children. My parents were very involved in their communities; their charitable organizations and clubs. My mother founded a local theatre group, sang in a local chorus, went to neighborhood council meetings, were active in their synagogue, and we all went to visit relatives on Sunday in our Buick Special.Allo the familied knew one another and walked in and out of one another's homes like they were our own.
Sure, their cookbooks were full of mayonnaise and other gelatinous goo that eventually killed them (well not MY parents, they're both 88) Sure, their unwitting faith in authority left many of us in search of a cause...but without this burst of enthusiasm I don't think there could have been the fantastic changes, the desire for meaning and love that made the 60s the 60s. You have to understand history on it's own terms. They didn't know they were sculpting holes in the ozone layer.
I think the most embarrassing thing about it is how freakin' WHITE everyone is...but even many of my non-white friends grew up with similar aspirations -- they wanted what everyone wanted, freedom, stability, education, and healthy children. But now we have a chance to give it another shot...and hopefully do it right this time.
This is a really stunning piece in several ways... the footage is fantastic ....and it's so very odd to hear the narrator speaking of rampant consumerism and the push-button culture, as well as extolling the virtues of urban sprawl without the slightest hint of irony or sarcasm.
Subject: It's still like that
"Now we have concrete jungles that bear little resemblance to what is shown here. At least the packaged lie looked a little appealing but look at what it had mutated into!"
I live in Australia, this is what our suburbs look like now (modernised, obviously). Outside of Sydney (our largest city, of 5 million) basically no concrete jungles, all open suburbs.
Subject: Life in the 50's
Not a bad visit back.
Subject: Mid 1950's Outllook
New ways and optimistic thoughts via Redbook guide the viewer through this film aimed at the 1957 young adult middle class generation who moved to the suburbs. A good look at another generation and time.
Subject: A slice of history
The narration should be listened to with one ear at best - there is lots of talk about "young adults", which is not surprising as the film was made for a specialised audience - but the images are terrific. They are surprisingly natural - there are relatively few scenes which are obviously posed - and they give the most fantastic insight into 1950s culture. You can see the Formica table tops, tail fins on cars, gigantic household appliances, supermarkets, beehive hairstyles and a thousand and one other visual manifestations of that era! Everyone shown is white, in a family and reasonably well-off; however, suburbia was like that then and it is good to see things presented as they were without being romanticised or idealised.
Subject: sad reality
What I thought started out as a good idea was probably never true. Rather, people were lead into believing that this was the best way to live. Now we have concrete jungles that bear little resemblance to what is shown here. At least the packaged lie looked a little appealing but look at what it had mutated into! I think a fitting title would be, how to best package people into experimental rat-like living. Is there any wonder why people refer to the daily commute as a rat race? The people who really struck out rich were people like developers and doctors. You need doctors to cure the symptoms that never go away with this kind of rat-trap, plastic-venere, materialistic kind of living. The family is only an afterthought, and they lie when they say that they care about families. Families are good because they generate more wealth for the developers and other consumers. What I once thought as nostalgia is actually repugnant especially after the long run. The outlaw bikers, the intellectual bohemians and beatniks, and later the hippies were kind of the other necessary side that should have caused people to reflect on the miserable, fake facade kind of living that this movie almost desperately encourages everyone to follow. Another era of conspicous consumption that began at the turn of the century but with bells and whistles.
Subject: Stylistically ahead of its time
ÃÂIn the SuburbsÃÂ was commissioned by Redbook Magazine to solicit advertisers who wanted to target young suburban families. The filmmakers used a hand-held camera and informally filmed newly built suburban shopping malls and what appears to be their own friends, families and children. The resulting meandering camerawork and documentary intimacy ironically foreshadows the later ÃÂundergroundÃÂ films made ten years later during the counter-culture years of the sixties. This technically adventurous film also mixes black and white with color footage, uses still photos and plays with unusual camera anglesÃÂother methods that anticipate film and video work done later in the century. The reason the film gives for its stylistic variety is that advertisers need to see young adult consumers in "many different ways" in order to sell them products. ÃÂIn the SuburbsÃÂ is one more reminder that capitalism and bohemianism go hand in hand.
David Cox -
Subject: Where the Malling of the World Began
Here is a priceless view of the socio-economic conditions which led to what we now have to live with - the malling of the world.
When each drive-thru store was a novelty, few could have imagined the vast reach of the developers. In the decades to follow in their insatiable desire to make uniform, sanitary, conveniant, and new, the builders of malls and roadside culture generally began the process of
social engineering en masse.
It looks cute today but for everyone who laments the passing of community in the wake of McWorld, this film chronicles the beginning of the end.
Subject: When the going was good
I enjoyed this film. The film was aimed at people who had come through a depression and 2 wars and were now interested in moving to a nice home raising a family and enjoying things that their parents could not afford. Somehow this has been made out to be a bad thing by revisionist critics who like nothing better than to look down their noses at these people enjoying the economic expansion of the 50s. I say thank god for these 1950's "young adults". It's their whining kids who I have no use for.
Subject: Just Amazing.
Highly gorgeous short which is, in most part, a shill for Redbook Magazine. But in it's layers is a fascinating study, just about the best I've seen, about 1950's suburbia and consumerism, with the focus on the shopping malls.
The film starts off by some overwhelmingly hypnotic shots of people gaily playing about in their lovely suburban home in color, and then we have shots of the dirty city life they left behind (In black and white). These 'Young Adults' (20?-25?) move here to get out of city life, have kids, and of course, to shop shop shop. This is a very Stepford wives creepfest going on, where women don't make a move unless contacting their Redbook and the men.. well, the men don't seem to DO anything, except, well, throw parties. Great magazine articles are shown as well, such as "How can I please my husband" and "How Chicken Dinners can poison you" (or something like that). FULL of amazing shots and scenarios, this is a MUST SEE on this site!
Christine Hennig -
Subject: In the Suburbs
We're talking 50s, folks. 50s big white families with big cars who live in little boxes made of ticky-tacky that all look just the same. 50s "young adults" who go to the mall and spend lots of money. Redbook magazine, the makers of this film, claimed to have its fingers on the pulse of this big-spending bunch from the ÃÂburbs. The film was obviously made to sell this demographic group to advertisers, and seeing such a film illuminates how much the 50s suburban nuclear family mythos was a marketing creation. These "young adults" are portrayed as consumers only, not as actual people. Although the film pays lip service to 50s social and political issues in the form of brief newsreel clips, it's just to show how "serious" these young adults are, and how Redbook addresses this "seriousness" by running articles like "The Sexual Responsibility of Women". But don't worry, advertisers, they're not too seriousÃÂÃÂthey're back at the mall in the next scene. What's really scary is how these rigid marketing concepts became ideals to aspire to during the 50s, and how they've become items of nostalgia today. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the 50s suburban reality tunnel.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Our Secret Century, Vol. 6: The Uncharted Landscape.